Chronicillness is a human health condition that can be controlled but has noknown cure. This condition affects a large human populationworldwide. Chronic disease accounts for 70% of all deaths in the U.S,which is approximately 1.7 million people each year. It is also aleading cause of premature death around the world according to WorldHealth Organization statistics. The term chronic applies when anillness lasts for more than 3 months. This may include diseases suchas arthritis, asthma, COPD, diabetes, cancer and viral illnesses suchas hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS. Although the above diseases are costly,they are also the easiest to prevent and control (Schulman‐Greenet al., 2012).
Differencesexist between an acute condition and a chronic condition in that theformer is sudden and very severe for a short period from the onsetbut just for a brief period then disappears. On the other hand, achronic condition is a long-developing syndrome that goes throughstages in its development. An acute condition could be anything likea broken bone (Sage, Sowden, Chorlton, & Edeleanu, 2013). Acuteillnesses are also usually isolated to one body part and will moreoften respond to treatment.
Chronicdisease is a persistent and often distressing condition that maycause psychological changes to a patient. Patients with chronicillness need help in learning to cope with the emotions related totheir illness and how to manage the disruption in their normal lifecaused by the disease. This disruption may be in their family or worklife.
Healthpsychologists also conduct research on chronic illness leading toprogress in knowledge in areas such as its prevention, how to treatthe illness and rehabilitation of the patients, which is essentialfor the patients to manage their illness. Health psychologists alsoplay a role helping soldiers in the military, deal withpost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They also assist in theadvocacy of healthy behaviors and also respond to psychologicalissues such as stress, depression and anxiety. Health psychologistsare trained to know how the mind and body can work together on what’sgoing on with a particular illness to help that person deal withwhatever issues they are being presented with (Schulman‐Greenet al., 2012).
Oneway in which health psychologists help patients is through education.They inform patients on a critical level about their illness. If apatient can understand why their body is behaving as it is then, theywill be able to understand how things like healthy living, can help(Sage, Sowden, Chorlton, & Edeleanu, 2013).
Additionallythey assist the patient in learning about the relationship betweenthought and behavior. This is because stress and fatigue may cause anincrease in pain to a patient. A health psychologist should worktogether with their patient to try a find ways not to overworkthemselves as it may lead fatigue and pain.
Healthpsychologists also provide a holistic perspective on health. They notonly take into account a patient physical illness but also their lifeexperience. This means that patients should be seen not just aswhat’s going on physically and emotionally, but also how theirrelationships are like (Schulman‐Greenet al., 2012). The information they gather about a patient includesbiological characteristics, behavior, and social factors.
Healthpsychologists also teach their patients new skills that will enablethem to learn to help themselves (Sage, Sowden, Chorlton, &Edeleanu, 2013). This may include imparting patients with skillssuch as knitting that will allow them earn a living or also help themdeal with their condition.
Sage,N., Sowden, M., Chorlton, E., & Edeleanu, A. (2013). CBTfor chronic illness and palliative care: a workbook and toolkit.John Wiley & Sons.
Schulman‐Green,D., Jaser, S., Martin, F., Alonzo, A., Grey, M., McCorkle, R.,. & Whittemore, R. (2012). Processes of Self‐Managementin . Journalof Nursing Scholarship, 44(2),136-144.